We asked readers to tell us about pen pals they found through the Monitor's Mail Bag column, which ran from 1929 to 1969. Here are some excerpts from a few of your responses.
Thank you for bringing back many fond memories of my Monitor Mail Bag pen pal and her family in Kerala, India. My little box of saved letters that dates from 1964-67 has moved with me through my life since then.
Her name was P.T. Rose, and she was a 22-year-old college student. My dad, a teacher, corresponded for a while with her father, also a teacher.
We also exchanged books. I still have the copy of "Nehru, an Autobiography" that Rose sent me. She also requested that her father help me learn Mayalam, their mother language. Because there were no books already written to help in this, her wonderful father wrote a 72-page booklet, drawing the letters of their alphabet, giving the sounds they made in English, and writing many words and sentences.
Rose's family knew very little about American food, and so we put together a box of prepared foods such as mac and cheese, instant potatoes, soup mixes, breakfast cereals, Fizzies (I can't believe we sent those!), and pudding mixes – all with long descriptions of how to prepare and serve them. When Rose entered a convent and could no longer write. I then began writing to her sister, Mary.
It's great to say thank you to the Monitor for having "Mail Bag"!
Sharon (Harris) Jacobsen
In 1953, as I was graduating from elementary school, I decided to respond to a notice in the Monitor inviting readers to become pen pals. Before long, I received a letter with a foreign stamp on it. Wow! A novel experience for an untraveled girl in a little California beach town.
It was from a girl in Scotland who explained that she had had so many responses that she had given my name and address to her best friend, Hazel Simpson, who would write to me soon. Thus began a wonderful correspondence that has continued to this present time – 55 years.
As an adult, Hazel left Scotland and moved to eastern Canada. Then, about 1975, I had occasion to travel to upstate New York. I wrote to her and we arranged to meet for lunch at Niagara Falls. That's the only time we've ever met, but we still communicate, generally at Christmastime. I call her on the phone about once a year. It's so nice to hear her voice, with that wonderful Scottish accent.
Thanks, Mail Bag, for enriching my life with a sweet Scottish girl.
Walnut Creek, Calif.